Book Review: Idaho Battlegrounds by Sarah Black

Idaho Battlegrounds by Sarah BlackTitle: Idaho Battlegrounds
Author: Sarah Black
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Sensual
Source: review copy provided by publisher
Published: 2010 by Dreamspinner Press

Sheriff Grady Sullivan returns to Canyon County, Idaho, after his second tour in Afghanistan to find his department in disorder and his authority undermined. He’s determined to restore discipline, but he soon finds himself fighting for his job. The bright spot in his life is kindred soul Edward Clayton. But Edward isn't just raising dairy cows, and Grady is soon pulled into Edward’s Underground Railroad for illegal kids.

As noble as Edward’s work is, it’s illegal, and Grady is suddenly faced with losing everything he’s worked for and everything that matters to him as he’s forced to choose between Edward and the work that has always defined him.

Reviewed By: J9

In a Nutshell: Enjoyable gentle MM romance with just a bit too feminized leads.

The Set Up: Grady returned to Idaho after two tours fighting in Afghanistan only to find his sheriff’s department in disarray with a crooked cop in charge. He finds himself fighting for his job at the same time he meets Edward, a new-to-town dairy farmer who’s also running an Underground Railroad for illegally trafficked children. Now Grady is forced to choose between his work and Edward.

Why I Read this Book: I really enjoyed Sarah Black’s recently released book The General and the Horse-Lord, and am reading some of her backlist like this book.

What I Liked: Grady and Edward are both mature leads who have a very drama-free romance. Grady and Edward talk about their feelings with each other, not ad nauseam like teenage girls, but an appropriate amount. For instance, Edward sees that his relationship with Grady is causing Grady work stress so instead of doing the typical romance thing of pushing him away for his own good, Edward simply asks Grady if the relationship is worth the stress. The characters have a joy in spending time together, like healthy couples do in real life, and I enjoyed being privy to their deepening relationship.

What I Also Liked: I like the inclusion of Grady’s sheriff job and Edward’s Underground Railroad. The two plots certainly intersect but they also illustrate how these two mature men approach life. The secondary characters of Grady’s deputies and Edward’s accomplices in the Underground Railroad nicely round out this character driven novella.

I have to also mention how I like that not everything ends up in a storybook happily ever after way. The romance has a great conclusion, don’t get me wrong, but the rest of plot isn’t wrapped up with a neat bow on top. There is a realism to how the book ends in that both Grady and Edward sacrifice something in order to build a life together. I wish life didn’t force these choices on LGBT but it’s likely a harsh reality that the novella doesn’t gloss over.

What I Didn’t Like: First, just a word of warning that this book is barely PG-13. I like erotic romance and this is definitely a fade-to-black in its love scenes. I didn’t hate that as it fit the sweet romance but I’m not sure how many of this author’s books I’ll read if they remain barely PG-13.

Second, I can’t help wondering a bit if Grady and Edward are overly feminized. Grady loves roses and though a single man in his middle-age easily picks up a baby and feeds her mushed carrots. Edward matches his underwear to his eyes and wears silk shirts. Sure, I know gender is socially constructed and there is a spectrum that people and characters fall on but both of these guys love to take sensual bubble baths in a pink tub, notice freshly washed sheets dried in the sun and read books aloud to each other—all just a bit overly feminized for two male characters in my humble opinion.

IMO: This is a good romance with enjoyable leads in a drama-free, though PG-13, relationship.


J9’s Rating:
3 Frogs

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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.


  1. LOL. I never fail to get a laugh out of the covers on the books you read.

    1. I know!! Dreamspinner especially has some baaaad ones!

    2. I know! Dreamspinner has some especially bad ones!


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